France and Germany are insisting the EU executive should not be given the right to determine whether a group of member states can press ahead with ‘enhanced cooperation’ in the foreign policy arena, although it will be able to do so in other areas of policy-making in its role as guardian of the Union treaty.French diplomats have suggested that enhanced cooperation could be used, for example, to allow some states to form a special high-level task force to deal with the conflict in the Great Lakes region in Africa even if others did not wish to take part. But Paris argues that the Commission should not be given in a say in whether this happens.France has traditionally been the strongest advocate of giving the EU a more united position on external relations issues, but through greater coordination of individual member states’ stances rather than by boosting the Commission’s role.However, Patten argues that trying to improve the effectiveness of the Union’s foreign policy while marginalising the Commission is self-defeating because the executive can provide considerable aid and controls essential policy tools for dealing with crisis situations.He emphasised the importance of his institution’s role in a speech in June, saying: “While the Commission has nothing to say – nor do we seek a role – in defence, it is impossible to separate purely military matters from related issues in which we are competent, and have a real contribution to make. Military and the non-military actions cannot be placed neatly into separate boxes. Nor should they be, because they need to be closely coordinated in the service of a single strategy.”The debate comes as EU leaders prepare to boost Solana’s role by giving him control of the Union’s new permanent political and security committee (PSC), which will run crisis management operations from next year. The paper on ‘effective conflict prevention’ will emphasise the executive’s importance in dealing with humanita-rian emergencies such as the situations in Bosnia and Kosovo, although it will not be involved in the military side of crisis management operations.It will also argue against any attempt to marginalise the Commission, while acknowledging that the Union’s usual decision-making procedures will have to be telescoped if it is to take rapid action to deal with crisis situations.The move comes as most EU governments are fighting French-led attempts to limit the Commission’s role in deciding whether some Union countries can go ahead with new foreign policy initiatives without all 15 member states being involved.